Name: Erik Wennermark
Hometown: suburban Washington D.C.
Current City: Hong Kong
What does poetry mean to you?
I am a bit of a neophyte when it comes to poetry; I’ve certainly read a fair bit, and I’ve often hung out with poets. I’ve even been in poetry workshops, but I’ve always been a prosaic dude at heart. Maybe that’s why the poems I tend to like are prose-y like Carolyn Forché’s “The Colonel” or just weird exercises like Joe Wenderoth’s Letters to Wendy’s. In my current job though, I find myself reading poetry everyday – much of which is canon (Keats, Wordsworth, etc). This has happened at other times in my life (I went on a long Whitman tear) – and whenever I read poetry everyday I come to appreciate it so much more as it offers challenges and concerns I just don’t get from prose. It’s the rare paragraph, maybe Melville, that I can read ten times and find something new each time, but even what’s ultimately a pretty goofy poem, Keats’s “When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be,” for example, continually rewards careful reading. Some other poems I have enjoyed lately are Philip Larkin’s “The Building” and Anna Akhmatova’s “You Will Hear Thunder.” I’m also a sucker for reading odd fiction about poets (below), most Roberto Bolaño wrote.
Why do you like this poet/poem?:
His absolute devotion to the craft come hell or high-water – in a most literal sense.